HC Deb 05 April 1910 vol 16 c195

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he was aware that the prices paid by the contractors to their different workpeople engaged in the making of clothing for the Army are steadily being reduced; whether he would have investigations made as to the prices paid by the contractors to their machinists, tailors, finishers, and pressers during the last three years; and whether, having gathered such information, he would take steps to ensure that the prices paid under any coming contracts will be in harmony with the Fair Wages Clause?


A large number of statistics have already been collected by the War Office and other departments as to the wages paid by clothing contractors, and I am afraid that the extensive investigation suggested would not materially add to the information available. As the hon. Member is no doubt aware, the clothing industry is very imperfectly organised, and the consequent absence of any recognised or prevailing rates for any given work tends to weaken the effect of the Fair Wages Clause. An endeavour has been made to meet the difficulty by stipulating for the payment of a minimum wage on army contract work, but it is to the creation of Trade Boards under the recent Act that far reaching and permanent improvement of conditions must be looked for. I can assure the hon. Member that no effort is spared in this as in other trades to administer the Fair Wages Clause as effectively as possible.